M56 motorway

M56 motorway

M56 motorway shield

M56 motorway
Route information
Part of Tabliczka E22.svg E22
Length: 33.3 mi (53.6 km)
Existed: 1971 – present
History: Constructed 1971–1981
Major junctions
East end: Cheadle
  Junction 1.svg UK-Motorway-M60.svg
J1 → M60 motorway Junction 4
Junction 9.svg UK-Motorway-M6.svg
J9 → M6 motorway Junction 20
Junction 15.svg UK-Motorway-M53.svg
J15 → M53 motorway Junction 11
West end: Mollington
Wythenshawe, Manchester Airport, Warrington, Runcorn, Ellesmere Port, Chester
Road network

Roads in the United Kingdom
Motorways • A and B road zones

The M56 Motorway, also known as the North Cheshire motorway, is in Cheshire and Greater Manchester, England. It runs from Junction 4 of the M60 to Dunkirk, Cheshire and is 33.3 miles (53.6 km) in length. It is often busy with long-distance commuter traffic towards North Wales. It serves commuters heading to Manchester particularly those from the wider Cheshire area and gives access to Manchester Airport from the national motorway network. [1]

The road forms part of the unsigned Euroroute E22.



Although the main line of the motorway starts as a continuation of the A5103 Princess Parkway, the M56 actually begins on Sharston Spur. After passing through junctions 1 and 2, the spur joins the main line at junction 3, increasing from two lanes to four to accommodate Manchester Airport traffic.

The road then heads south to the west of Wythenshawe and Manchester Airport until it reaches junction 6, where it turns west. It runs to the south of Hale, reducing to three lanes. It passes junctions 7 and 8 which are part of the same complex. Junction 8 was planned to be used by the proposed A556(M)[1]). The current proposals are to upgrade the A556 to a dual carriageway.[2] Traffic for the southbound M6 leaves here and this junction can suffer from congestion. The motorway then enters a more rural setting between Broomedge and High Legh.

After meeting the M6 motorway it passes south of Appleton Thorn. After reaching junction 11, it runs through the outskirts of Runcorn and Frodsham. Between junctions 12 and 14, and the missing junction 13, it runs parallel to the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. After meeting the M53 motorway, the road finally returns to two lanes, it proceeds between Chester to the south and Ellesmere Port to its termination at Dunkirk, Cheshire where it becomes the A494.

Traffic for North Wales can take either the M53 or A494 to reach the A55.


The first proposal for a road along this route was agreed in 1958 and it entered the Trunk Road Programme for 1967/1968.[3] Construction began in 1968[4] and the motorway opened in stages between 1971 and 1981[5]:

  • Junctions 1 to 3 opened in 1975.
  • Junctions 3 to 7 opened in 1972.
  • Junctions 7 to 9 opened in 1974.
  • Junctions 9 to 11 opened in 1975.
  • Junctions 11 to 14 opened in 1971.
  • Junctions 14 to 16 opened in 1981.

Proposals did exist for an extension into North Wales across the proposed Dee Barrage,[6] but these have not happened.[7]

Until 2008 the M56 terminated at a roundabout at the west end. Work started in 2006 [2] to grade-separate this junction (and others) to allow free-flowing traffic to North Wales. The project was completed in 2008.


Data[8] from driver location signs are used to provide distance information.

M56 Motorway
km Eastbound exits Junction Westbound exits
Stockport M60
Leeds (M62)
M60, J4 Start of motorway
(Sharston Spur)
Didsbury A34 J1 No access
No access J2 Wythenshawe, Altrincham A560 (M60)
Altrincham, Wythenshawe, Wythenshawe Hospital, Cheadle A560 J3a Start of motorway
(Princess Parkway spur)
Altrincham, Congleton, Wythenshawe A5103
Manchester Ring Road (M60)
J3 No access
11.6 No access J4 Wythenshawe
12.6 Manchester Airport J5 Manchester Airport
14.3 Hale, Wilmslow, Macclesfield A538 J6 Wilmslow, Hale, Macclesfield A538
19.9 Altrincham A56 J7 & J8 Northwich A556
Lymm A56
Birmingham (M6)
28.3 Preston, Birmingham, Leeds (M62) M6 J9 Preston, Liverpool (M62) M6
33.4 Warrington, Northwich A49 J10 Northwich, Warrington A49
38.3 Runcorn (E), Warrington A56 J11 Preston Brook, Daresbury A56
43.1 Runcorn, Widnes, Northwich A557 J12 Frodsham, Runcorn, Widnes A557
51.4 Stanlow Refinery, Helsby A5117 J14
Chester services
Stanlow Refinery, Helsby A5117
55.6 No access J15 Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead, Chester, Wrexham M53
Start of Motorway J16 No access
North Wales, Queensferry A5117 Road continues as A494 towards North Wales

Junction 7 slip closures

At Junction 7 in July 2009, the slip road letting traffic come in southbound along the M56 and turn onto the A556 southbound was closed while the bridge where it crosses the M56 (the Bowdon View Bridge), which for many years had had a weight restriction, was worked on; traffic intending to use it had to carry on to junction 10 and there turn round, or go through the center of Altrincham; traffic for the simultaneous nearby Tatton Park Flower Show, and the resulting simultaneous closure to through traffic of the minor road along the southwest edge of Tatton Park from Ashley, Cheshire to Mere, Cheshire, which would otherwise have acted as a bypass for people living in the area, added to the resulting congestion.

In October and November 2010, the bridge was demolished and replaced.[9] [10] [11] [12] The schedule as at 23 October 2010 is:

  • Friday 18 October evening to Monday 18 October: Remove old bridge: YesY Done. Start building center pillar in the central reservation for the replacement bridge.
  • Friday 22 October to Sunday 24 October: Finish building center pillar, as this could not be finished the previous weekend.
  • Friday 29 October to Monday 1 November: Install new bridge: YesY Done. Reopen bridge: ???
  • Thursday 4 November c. 2.30 pm: By then the new bridge was open for one lane of traffic with no apparent weight restriction, but there were still workmen there.

M56 corridor

"The M56 corridor" is a term used by estate agents and social geographers to describe what is considered to be a relatively affluent area of North West England, within easy reach of the M56. The area includes the cities of Manchester and Chester, and commuter towns and villages in rural Cheshire. It also includes Warrington and St Helens where the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are prominent.[13]

See also


External links

Coordinates: 53°20′29″N 2°32′57″W / 53.34128°N 2.54917°W / 53.34128; -2.54917

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